ap-monseyLocated in Rockland County New York, the town of Monsey has a fascinating history which set the stage for the important cultural role the town plays to this day.

The original inhabitants of what would become Monsey were members of the Munsee band of the Lenape Indian tribe, an Algonquin speaking people. It is from that band that the town got its name. The band of Native Americans in turn, got their name from their chief, whose name was Munsee.

Like much of Rockland County, the town remained largely rural and agrarian until Rockland County became more accessibly following the construction of the Tappan Zee in the post-war period. With that major artery, more and more individuals were able to move to Rockland which went from being perceived as an upstate backwater to a near suburb of New York City.

Also in the immediate post-war years came in an influx of Eastern European Jewish immigrants who had survived the Holocaust. They settled in Monsey and arguably became one of the most populous groups in the town. It is thanks to them that Monsey remains culturally important to a large number of Jews around the world. Monsey became the heir to a rich Ukrainian Orthodox Jewish dynasty, the Vizhnitz Dynasty. Monsey currently has a large number of synagogues and yeshivas, which number well over one hundred.

In addition to Monsey’s important place as a Jewish cultural center, it is also home to the Houser-Conklin House, a historic landmark dating back to the American Colonial period. The house is on the National Register of Historic Landmarks.

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